I started S.W. Basics, a tiny all-natural skincare company based in Brooklyn, for two reasons. The first was that I couldn't find any skincare products that didn't make my skin freak out, even the natural ones. The second was that I had previously been teaching people how to make the products in DIY workshops, and I realized that people didn't want to make their own products—they wanted to buy them at an affordable price from a company they could trust. And that didn't exist at the time.
Since then, our traction has grown tremendously. For the first year or so, no one understood what I was talking about when I pitched the company. "Truly all-natural skincare products all made from five ingredients or less, sourced from organic, Fair Trade, or small U.S. family farms."
It seems a little more normal now, but this used to sound like a foreign language to people. To some, it still does. I talk to manufacturers who tell me that "natural" is a trend that is already ending, or "no one cares" about organic. At trade shows, we are constantly approached by suppliers selling "a shea butter byproduct that lasts 10 years." Packagers love reminding us how much money we'd save if we just used plastic instead of glass bottles.
But for all of the non-believers, there are some tremendous humans doing it exactly right, and have been for years and years. They constantly amaze us. They're so humble and hard-working.
When we met the couple who harvests our sea salt, the woman said she swore to her husband she wouldn't let him keep salt in the house after they were married, but to this day it's still everywhere. The farm that supplies our witch hazel is committed to taking down Monsanto. Apparently, the local university no longer teaches organic farming in the agriculture department—now it's a subject for sociology. She's very committed to getting the truth out to everyone in America, right after she distills the next batch of witch hazel.
Starting and growing S.W. Basics has been a huge challenge. The food industry is dirty, but the cosmetics industry is much worse. That means every success we've had with the brand has been so incredibly rewarding, but they wouldn't have been possible without all of the partnerships we've made, which just float under the radar.
When a product appears on the shelf all you see is a company taking credit for the hundreds of people who came together to actually make it happen. We think it's time to change that. Our thinking is: Why is it that these kinds of stories happen behind the scenes? When you buy stuff, you’re trading money for some real person’s real work. And that’s kind of awesome when you think about it. We wanted to promote these people, who do not have the time or capabilities to promote themselves: suppliers, manufacturers, and small businesses doing things the right way.
So we decided to launch a Kickstarter project to create a "make-umentary" film series to share some of their stories and to showcase the power of values-driven small business.
We want to use the power of film as a tool to positively promote the potential of business done right.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.